Mexico defeats Ecuador in friendly, loses Montes for World Cup in process
MAY 31, 2014 5:15p ET
Mexico continued its World Cup preparations with a straightforward 3-1 victory over Ecuador in Arlington, Texas on Saturday afternoon, but the triumph came at a significant cost to its hopes for success in Brazil next month.
Luis Montes will miss the tournament after sustaining a fractured right fibula and tibia just moments after curling home the opener in the 33rd minute. Marco Fabián replaced Montes after a delay of several minutes and thumped home a spectacular second after the interval. Giovani dos Santos added a third in the final quarter of an hour before Enner Valencia snatched a consolation goal for the Ecuadorians in the final 10 minutes.
The cost of the triumph could prove prohibitive, though. Montes’ injury deals Mexico a significant blow in the buildup to the opening match against Cameroon on June 13. His potential influence in that tournament showed in his final substantive contribution as he capped off a fine Mexico move to claim the opener.
Ecuador frustrated El Tri for much of the opening half-hour with its robust approach, but the Mexicans finally settled into the match and strung together the sort of buildup required to carve open the opposition. The ball moved quickly out to the left to Andrés Guardado and then returned to Héctor Herrera in midfield. A quick sequence of passes ultimately permitted Oribe Peralta to drop a clever ball for Montes to curl inside the far post to open the scoring.
Montes’ delight turned to horror moments later after he lunged into a tackle with Segundo Castillo that would ultimately end his World Cup dreams. The Club León midfielder grasped the gravity of his injury seconds later. Mexico medical staffers quickly rushed onto the field and tended to the knock. Montes subsequently went to a local hospital to receive further treatment, according to the Mexican federation.
Both teams meandered through the final stages of the first half as they attempted to process the injuries sustained by both Castillo (an apparent knee complaint) and Montes. Mexico eventually improved after the interval despite the injuries sustained by Montes and Rafa Márquez (withdrawn at the interval with a foot injury) and mustered a moment of inspiration through Fabián to increase its haul after 69 minutes.
Fabián found himself in space on the right flank. He allowed the ball to bounce forward in front of him with his Ecuadorian markers reluctant to close him down. He then opted to strike the ball on the half-volley and watched as it flew into the net from all of 30 yards.
The third goal followed seven minutes later to dispel any doubt about the result. Mexico worked the ball deftly from left to right to create a crossing opportunity for second-half substitute Miguel Layùn. The defense failed to cope adequately with the subsequent service and provided dos Santos with an opportunity to fire toward goal. His effort rang the far post and deflected off the back of Máximo Banguera for the third after 76 minutes.
Liga MX top scorer Valencia – another second-half substitute as Ecuador boss Reinaldo Rueda used the friendly to evaluate his fringe players – pulled a goal back from a free kick four minutes later. Valencia drove his low effort through the Mexican wall and into a crowd in front of Ochoa. Héctor Moreno stabbed at the effort only to see it deflect into the net instead.
The late goal did little to dampen the utility of the exercise for a Mexico side starting to find its rhythm or mitigate the devastating loss of Montes for the World Cup. It is now down to Miguel Herrera to focus on those positives and plot a way to cope without one of his key midfield components as El Tri heads to Chicago to face Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday.